Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Their Morality and Ours

Once again Rav Avi Shafran has gone after the YCT crowd's recent decision to crown a woman rabbi.  Now, while I'm not a big fan of that move and have criticized it in the past, I do find Rav Shafran's approach somewhat contemptuous.  It begs a simple question:
What is the difference between Modern Orthodoxy and Chareidism?
There are many possible answers to this question but I think one way of looking at this is to examine what each group does wrong when it comes to proper Orthodox behaviour.
For Modern Orthodoxy, the failings including a lack of proper appreciation of lomdus, a lenient approach to some halachic issues that should be taken more seriously and a trend towards liberalism for its own sake, not because it's based on a true Torah outlook.
The worst offenders in Modern Orthodoxy are guilty of spending too much time worrying about how to help the gentile world improve itself and inventing new titles for women rabbis.
For Chareidims, the failings include a propensity towards smug self-righteousness, a belief that lomdus is the be-all-end-all of Judaism and a trend towards stingency for its own sake.
The worst offenders in Chareidism are guilty of rioting, attacking and destroying the property of others, attacking and injuring those who they disagree with and inventing new chumros to justify this behaviour.
Wow, I can see why people look down at the Modern Orthodox...


Shalmo said...

The Jew is caught between the old and the new. If you let go of the old you cease being a Jew. But we can't live in the old world, we need to live in the modern world since the old world has passed. But Judaism lies in the past, yet Jewry live in the world today.

Those who try to adapt to the modern world are the ones who assimilate and disappear (reform and conservative). So if you wish to remain a Jew you must resist the modern world. Yet those who hold on to the old traditions (Haredi and the Orthodox), they suffer from the very same norms that make the modern world superior (misogyny, clerical bullying, etc).

You can't reject the Torah because it is what makes you a Jew in the first place, yet your modern sensibilities clearly cannot reconcile the genocides, the rules for selling your daughter into slavery, or the scientifically fraudulent creation myth.

The curse of being a Jew thus is to forever be torn between those two worlds. You can't live in the modern world, and you can't live in the past. All you can do is "survive" while living between those worlds.

When someone ask you what does being Jewish mean to you, the only logical answer is that there is no logical answer. Judaism and being Jewish is an existence of living in contradictions.

David said...

Shafran's article was hypocritical twaddle. He was at pains to point out that it is the substance of a person's life, rather than his (or her) title that is important. Somehow, however, he then assumes his pre-ordained conclusion that women should shut up and be virtuous, and he should have a title. His article was utterly devoid of any explanation as to why a woman shouldn't be able to be a rabbi.

Nishma said...

I think that on one level we can define the problem in both worlds in a similar fashion. There is a continuous tension between one's will and God's Will with the goal, as simplistically understood, to choose the latter over the former. Complications, however, emerge in that God's Will is not necesarily always in conflict with our will and, in fact, we must at times even use what we may perceive to be our will in our process of defining and understanding God's Will. Then again there are times when we must not. It is within this confusion that we find many of the difficulties in both worlds of Orthodoxy.

In the Modern Orthodox world, the problem is that they reflect upon their own wills and project it simply also as the will of God. This includes their ethical wills. As such if they feel that a certain stand in regard to women, for example, is ethical, they extend it to project that this must also be the Will of God.

In the charedi world, what occurs is similar but it involves two different responses to the personal will. On one hand, they perceive anything that satisfies their own will or desire for the spritual to be also in fulfillment of the Will of God. By extension, they also feel that anything that falls within their perception of the spiritual, especially in contradistinction of the physical, must also be part of this Will of God.

The result is what we see. Two groups not only motivated by different desires but also defining their variant motivations as the Will of God. No wonder there is hostility. They are both arguing for opposite perceptions of the Will of God. The result is that each one also rejects the other's definition of what God wants so the chardim reject what is good in the Mo and the MO reject what is good in the charedim.

The answer lies in both recognizing that even in their ethical and spiritual wills they will not find the Will of God, nor will they find His Will in the rejection of their own wills. Its in the combination which would include listening to the other side. Each can learn from each other. That is where the answer is.

Rabbi Ben Hecht